October 31, 2011

Witch’s Brew Wishes & Candy Corn Dreams


My house has been decorated for Halloween since around October 1st, but it’s possible we get into the holiday more than other folks.


This little crow has been part of my décor for a few years now and this year he found a nice spot on an Eiffel tower lamp. Some small antique glass bottles give a spooky effect as they can be imagined to hold potions and other mysterious concoctions.


These bottles actually started out clear, but certain elements present in the glass caused them to turn purple over the years as they were exposed to ultraviolet light. Many people collect this ‘sun-colored amethyst’ glass.


No Halloween is complete with candy corn and the rest of Brach’s sugary harvest mix. My great-grandmother’s carnival glass compote makes a perfect spooky candy dish.


White pumpkins add an unexpected touch, just watch out for the spiders crawling all over them. And after our visit to the real-live pumpkin patch, the southern beau and I finally carved our punkins yesterday….can you guess which one is mine & which is his? ;)


October 28, 2011

Fall Fun at the Pumpkin Patch


My southern beau and I get pretty excited about Halloween and this year he wanted us to visit a real pumpkin patch. We’ve done ‘pumpkin patches’ before, but they were the kind where all the pumpkins have been set out in a field…as opposed to actually growing there.


There was still a bit of that at the patch we went to, but many of those little orange babies were still clinging to the vine! I felt like such a kid running around trying to select the perfect ones.


We also saw these rascals who were alertly guarding the patch. The dog wasn’t easily convinced, but Mr. Goat fell in love with me once I gave him corn and a few licks of my sorghum lollipop.


All the pumpkins made it home with only one instance of stem breakage and they are patiently waiting to be carved.

Did you get a pumpkin this year? Did it grow in a patch or do you prefer more lasting varieties (i.e. ceramic)?

Happy Friday y’all!

and congrats to Amy & Katie L. for winning the Shutterfly giveaway!

October 26, 2011

Holiday Cards from Shutterfly

Last year I was contacted by the kind folks at Shutterfly and offered some free Christmas cards in exchange for a post. At that time I’d never ordered cards from them before and didn’t want to recommend anything I hadn’t used. We ended up buying our cards from them and I gave the promo code away to a lucky reader.

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This year I was contacted by Shutterfly again and provided with codes for 2 lucky readers to win 25 free cards. As someone who always made her family’s cards each year, it’s so nice to be able to upload a picture and be done with it. Not to say getting that perfect picture is ever easy, but at least half the battle’s won!

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These are some of my favorite card designs…especially the retro ones with cute fonts. There’s nothing cookie cutter about Shutterfly’s designs, many of which allow you to customize color and messages.

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The hardest part is deciding which ones to get! If you’d like to be eligible to win 25 free cards, leave a comment on this post or send me a tweet (some folks can’t comment for some reason). I’ll use randomOrg to pick a winner. One entry per person and I’ll close the entries at midnight on Oct. 27th.

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Oh and if you’re a blogger, you get a double chance to win by also entering here.

Are you ordering cards this year or getting super crafty and hand-making them, thus putting the rest of us to shame? I say order some pretty ones and spend that time baking cookies instead!

{P.S. I wonder if the folks on these cards are actual families and couples or just attractive card models?}

October 25, 2011

Southern Collections: Sterling Souvenirs

Some people go on vacation and relax by the shore…I do enjoy a bit of relaxing, but my favorite vacation pastime is thrifting!  This way, while those relaxing, shore-sitting people come home with a t-shirt or mug, I come home with vintage ironstone and silverware. My most recent trip resulted in some new-old treasures I wanted to share.

I was attracted to the spoon because of its twisting design and thought it might be perfect for serving some type of sauce or jam out of a little dish (condiment jars never go directly on the table…per my southern belle grandmother’s way).

I snatched up the silver plate butter spreader because of its S monogram (for my last name) and the simple pattern allows it to easily mesh with my other silverware.


The relish fork is a piece of ‘hotel silver’ (presumably from the Hotel Rowe in Grand Rapids, Michigan) . I don’t have any particular connection with the hotel, but I liked this piece because I’ve always wanted some hotel silver and never stumbled upon any ‘til now.


The finds of the trip were these curious little forks which I think would also have been used for pickles or other relish items. The one on the left has a golden tint and is marked “Montagne Italy.” The back has a tiny fleur de lis, but these boogers were just so hard to photograph.

The right fork is my favorite…only about 3.5 inches in length with a small figure on the end. It sort of looks like a mermaid (or perhaps a baby, wrapped up?). Anytime I find something so unique, I am intrigued about where it came from and who might have used it. Have any of you seen any utensils like these before? I’d love to know more about them.

October 24, 2011

Easy DIY Chalkboard Gifts

I’ve played around with chalkboard spray paint in the past…once turning an average wall mirror into a cute kitchen message board. This time I used chalkboard paint to make a few easy gifts and I think they turned out pretty cute.


First, these little gift tags. I guess I should share that all these items came from the clearance bin at Hobby Lobby. The tags started out with different kinds of veggies painted on them, but since I liked the shape more than the original design, I decided to make them chalkboards instead. These could be used as actual gift tags or I was even thinking personalized Christmas ornaments.


Next was this metal wall art…once again I wasn’t a huge fan of the original painted design, but, spray-painted with chalkboard paint, the metal makes a nice little message board, both for chalk and magnets.

I love how chalkboard paint makes it so easy to create a new use for something, especially when it’s a steal of a deal. I’m always on the lookout for items I can transform. Have you made anything crafty lately?

October 19, 2011

Anti-Recipe: Halloween Candy Corn Bark

candy corn bark

Sweet and salty combinations are just the greatest when it comes to snacking so I decided to whip up a batch of white chocolate bark with candy corn and pretzels. The recipe is so easy and the best part about it is you can make as much or little as you want. This comes in handy for me since I’m trying to eat healthier and I knew if I had made a whole lot of it, I’d also have eaten a whole lot of it.


  • pretzels (I used the small square grid variety of Kroger brand pretzels)
  • white chocolate chips
  • candy corn
  • tiny bit of cooking oil

1. Spread out a layer of pretzels and candy corn on a sheet of waxed paper (on your counter or a clean baking sheet).

2. Add a tiny bit of oil to the white chips and melt them slowly, either over low heat on the stove or in short increments via your microwave.

3. When the white chocolate is smooth and liquefied, pour it over the pretzels and candy corn. A thin coating is plenty for the sweet/salty combo but if you want to use more white chips for thicker pieces of bark you can break, go for it.

**Note: My measurements were about 3 servings of pretzels and candy corn (as specified on the packages) and then 3 tablespoons of chips…so the whole batch could be divided into 3 servings of about 300 calories each. Not the healthiest, but it is a special occasion treat!

{Disclaimer: The above image is not my creation…but it did look very similar}

October 17, 2011

An Apple A Day…

Who else is enjoying the crop of apples available right now, especially the Honeycrisps? I’ve been eating one almost every day for the past week and they are just so delicious. Apples are considered one of the “dirty dozen,” a.k.a. fruits you should try to buy organic whenever possible. Even if you peel them, it’s possible to get some not-so-great chemicals from the non-organic ones. If you can get them organic from a local farm, even better!

Sometimes I like to have a little something sweet after dinner and apples fit the bill. My favorite way to enjoy them is with a couple tablespoons of peanut butter, but sometimes I melt a handful of chocolate chips and dip the apple slices in that. What’s your favorite way to eat an apple?

October 14, 2011

Friday Flashback: Billys Tap Room

billy's tap room

Yesterday’s post mentioned something we did on vacation that I’d been dreaming of doing since childhood. While visiting Ormond Beach as a kid, we had a few choice dining spots, but they were mostly on the budget-friendly side. One year my parents and grandparents went to dinner (grown-ups only) at a place called Billy’s Tap Room and after that I’ve always wanted to eat there.


This lead glass cabinet near the door contains personalized nameplates for regulars who might want to call ahead and reserve a table.


The restaurant started out as The Tea Room in 1922. Billy MacDonald was the lounge manager at the Astor and Plaza Hotels in New York City and was invited by the owners of the beautiful Ormond Beach Hotel to move to Florida and manage the restaurant for them. After a few years, Billy bought a building on Granada Boulevard and moved The Tea Room, changing the name to Billy’s Tap Room & Grill.


In the early years, Billy’s sold fruits, jellies, newspapers, sandwiches and gifts. It evolved into a bar and full-service restaurant, where, in 1937, you could get draft beer for a nickel. Over the years the restaurant went through several owners, even closing for a time but it’s now reopened and restored to its original glory.


We took my mom there for her birthday dinner and it was quite the experience. I don’t think there are many places like Billy’s left…where going out to dinner still feels like a treat and not just something you do to get out of cooking. If you’re ever in Ormond Beach, definitely give it a try.

October 13, 2011

Grandeur in ruin {traveling adventures}


When you’ve vacationed in the same place for your entire life (in my case Ormond Beach, Florida) it can often be challenging to find new and different things to do. This most recent trip (last week) I managed to experience two new things…one of which I had dreamed about since childhood and the other I’d only recently discovered.


The childhood dream was visiting a certain landmark restaurant, but I’ll share more about that a little later. The other new thing we saw was an historical site we’d never heard of: the Calle Grande colonnade and arches.


In 1926, Walter C. Hardesty developed and built a luxury subdivision in Ormond Beach called Rio Vista on the Halifax. Hardesty made his fortune in manufacturing, creating arts and craft-style furniture in Dover, Ohio. By 1927 Rio Vista had a large hotel, 38 homes and more than 15 miles of paved roads. Hardesty wanted the experience of driving up to the site to be breathtaking so he constructed a set of formal marble arches as well as 20 columns on either side of the entrance, strategically positioned by a small canal.


We couldn’t believe the effort that must have gone into creating these gorgeous structures. If you’re wondering what happened to Rio Vista and Mr. Hardesty’s dreams as a real estate mogul, everything pretty much halted with the stock market collapse and the Depression. But these ruins still serve as a reminder of a grander time. And to think they have been there all these years right under our noses.

Do you venture out and find new sights to see even when visiting a beloved, well-known locale?

October 11, 2011

Resting Well, Well Rested

princess and the pea

{“She used to say she could taste sleep and that it was as delicious as a BLT on fresh French bread.” }
Rebecca Wells, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

I must have had a hankering for some tasty sleep of my own because a short nap around 6:30 last night turned into not waking up again until morning. Sometimes we just need to sleep and our bodies have funny ways of telling us.

Do you sleep when you’re tired or do you lay the guilt on yourself, 20 mattresses thick, that sleep can wait when your to-do list is long? I’m working on more of the former, less of the latter (but this is obvious by my 13 hour siesta!).

Happy Tuesday friend!

October 10, 2011

Bringing Butchering Back with @PRButcher

pig diagram

I always love to see a new business get started, especially when it’s one that offers amazing products. I met the guys of Porter Road Butcher at the Southern Artisan Cheese Fest and if you are ever in East Nashville, you should look them up.

porter rd butcher logo

Local and regional meats are a huge priority of theirs, to support the livelihoods of farmers in this area. Porter Road Butcher gets whole animals and butchers them on-site, which, according to my grandpa (a retired butcher) and Mr. Alan Benton, is quite a skill because “hardly anyone knows how to butcher anymore.”


We were treated to their Tennessee Pate at the Cheese fest…something like spam on steroids….or a little slice of heaven on a Ritz cracker. I look forward to seeing Porter Road Butcher thrive and can’t wait to taste more of their delicious offerings. 

If you eat meat, do you ever buy it from local producers?

October 4, 2011


Noemi Manalang Flickr CC 4

Oh, the comfort – the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person…having neither to weigh thoughts, nor measure words – but pouring them all right out – just as they are – chaff & grain together – certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them – keep what is worth keeping – and with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.                                      -- Dinah Craik, poet

{Hope fall is treating you well sweet friends!}

image via Noemi Manalang flickr

October 3, 2011

Sugary Sweetness with Bang Candy Company at the Southern Artisan Cheese Festival

Friday was the first ever Southern Artisan Cheese Festival and I was lucky enough to attend. The event was held at the Nashville Farmer’s Market and the clear fall evening made a perfect setting for foodies to mingle with food creators and taste their wares. In addition to all the delicious cheeses, I sampled many other local artisanal products from local folks.
My favorite beverage from the event would have to be the cocktail made for me by Sarah Souther of the Bang Candy Company. Sarah started her business after concocting a killer batch of homemade marshmallows and decided to run with them. She also makes simple syrups that are delish. Here’s a great little write-up on Sarah from the Tennessean. I didn’t try one of her homemade marshmallows, but the syrup was divine.
For the cocktails, we were asked to select a syrup for Sarah to then mix with prosecco (a sparkling white wine) or fizzy water and other ingredients. I chose the Hibiscus orange flower ginger syrup for mine.
It really didn’t need any extra fixings except an orange wedge and my festive creation was finished. I so enjoyed meeting Sarah and chatting with her about the upcoming opening of her new shop. She’s @Bangcandyco on twitter so send her some love!
Have you ever experimented with simple syrups? I’m sure they would be tasty in ginger ale for a non-alcoholic option as well. If you have a favorite mix, do tell!